Log In Sign Up

The guilt factor


Forum: Heated Debates

Notices

Welcome to the JustMommies Message Boards.

We pride ourselves on having the friendliest and most welcoming forums for moms and moms to be! Please take a moment and register for free so you can be a part of our growing community of mothers. If you have any problems registering please drop an email to [email protected].

Our community is moderated by our moderation team so you won't see spam or offensive messages posted on our forums. Each of our message boards is hosted by JustMommies hosts, whose names are listed at the top each board. We hope you find our message boards friendly, helpful, and fun to be on!

Reply Post New Topic
  Subscribe To Heated Debates LinkBack Topic Tools Search this Topic Display Modes
  #1  
November 22nd, 2009, 08:47 PM
SweetSimpleThings's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: B.C., Canada
Posts: 7,832
I was reading an article online recently, and then began reading the comments below. The article was essentially the author discussing her challenges with breastfeeding and the associated guilt, and eventually coming to terms (as much as possible) with it.

In the back-and-forth comments below were the usual gamut of responses: from the extreme of "formula feeding is just as good as BFing in every way" to "you should have tried harder", essentially.

In the middle were a lot of comments that basically said "Why do you feel guilty. If YOU know that you really tried as hard as you could, why shoudl you feel guilty?"

It's a sentiment I've heard in real life, and here on this board: that if you know deep down what you did to make it work, you have no reason to feel guilty. And sometimes, this line of thought is essentially followed up with: if you DO feel guilty, maybe it's because you feel you have reason to (ie. you know you didn't REALLY try that hard.)

I don't really think it's an adequate response, to simply say "you shouldn't feel guilty if you have nothing to feel guilty for". I am in NO way comparing failure to BF with sexual harassment, but when women are sexually harassed, we tend to feel guilty about it, even if we know we did nothing wrong. When people are abused or beaten by a parent or spouse, they often express feeling guilty. But we would never say to them "well, you rationally know that you are not responsible for your parent abusing you, it's SILLY to feel guilty" ... instead, we look at why and where that feeling of guilt comes from and attempt to tackle that issue.

My question is this: why are we so quick to dismiss this concept of women feeling guilty over BFing? Yes, guilt may be irrational in this context, but we are after all human emotional creatures. So why do we just say "no, you shoudln't feel guilty" and leave it at that, rather than trying to sort out the deeper reasons behind why women in our culture feel that way? And why do we feel guilt? What do you think are the sources for this feeling for women who want to BF and ultimately are not able to?
__________________

Reply With Quote
  #2  
November 22nd, 2009, 10:16 PM
(.Y.)mom2dd(.Y.)
Guest
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Christina A~ View Post
My question is this: why are we so quick to dismiss this concept of women feeling guilty over BFing? Yes, guilt may be irrational in this context, but we are after all human emotional creatures. So why do we just say "no, you shoudln't feel guilty" and leave it at that, rather than trying to sort out the deeper reasons behind why women in our culture feel that way? And why do we feel guilt? What do you think are the sources for this feeling for women who want to BF and ultimately are not able to?
When I worked the crisis lines, many times people would say "I can't do anything" after spending 10 mins telling me all these things they DID do to try to reach their goal. Just telling them all the things they've tried right back to them made them realize it wasn't like they were sitting around failing at something. Especially because it's a support board, I'm sure I'm guilty of trying to help a mom to quit feeling guilty about whatever by trying to show her how she did everything she could. As a mom, I have guilt about almost everything for a few reasons so I understand those feelings of guilt over things that other people don't seem to get.. Many times I have to really sit down and reevaluate why I feel the way I do. Handling Guilt | LIVESTRONG.COM <-- That has a good plan on how to cope with guilty feelings. When I hosted the spirituality board a million years ago, I tried to use a similar plan for women struggling with guilt. Sometimes just going through a few steps like really does help put things into perspective.

So back to you feeling that people dismiss guilt.. I think you're right. I think most people don't recognize that it's not something we just get over right away. Not all of us were given the tools to deal with negative emotions or have a stumbling block in that process with all the pp hormones. Mind you, I totally think women, women's health issues, pregnancy, and postpartum issues are not understood by the medical community and family.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
November 22nd, 2009, 11:38 PM
beck12's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 12,330
I have never thought anyone was saying it is silly to feel guilty or to dismiss a woman (like trying to say if you feel guilty you must have reason to) - but rather to reaffirm that if you tried everything you could - then there is no reason to feel guilt...kind of like reinforcing/diffusing those thoughts. Some people feel guilty over everything - even things well beyond their control (I used to be one of them) others seem to feel guilt over nothing it all.... I think when someone tells you that you shouldn't feel guilty - what they are in essence saying is that there is no reason to feel the guilt...not that they doubt it IS felt or that they think it is silly or that they think maybe you feel guilt because you should. I have never taken it that way.

What I will never probably understand is how intricate grief & guilt seem to be entwined. I can't tell you how many women I have heard say (including myself) that they felt guilty after a mc...like it was somehow their fault. It is a strange thing & something you have to work through - but certainly feel guilty & having reason to are two very different things. Essentially though the only way to get pas tit is to list over & over to yourself all the reasons you should not feel that way & in essence stop that "conversation" from even getting started in your head.
__________________
B - Crazy momma to my two boys
We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~Gloria Steinem

If a man has been his mother's undisputed darling he retains throughout life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which not seldom brings actual success along with it. ~Sigmund Freud
My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune. ~Graycie Harmon
Don't wait to make your son a great man - make him a great boy. ~Author Unknown
You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes. ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.
A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. ~Irish Proverb
Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. ~Erich Fromm
Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it. - Harold Hulbert
Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. ~William Makepeace Thackeray
God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. ~Jewish Proverb
The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence, when only the heart speaks. ~Carrie Latet




Reply With Quote
  #4  
November 23rd, 2009, 05:50 AM
IAmMomMomIAm
Guest
Posts: n/a
I remember discussing my feelings of guilt with other (successful) moms. The basic gist of what they said was that I had no reason to feel guilty. It wasn't dismissive, but more of a "don't hate yourself, because it's really not your fault."

Logically, I didn't really have a reason to feel guilty, but I did anyways. I know how hard I tried, and yet in the back of my mind I wonder if I could have tried just a little bit harder and succeeded. Logically, I know nothing else would have worked anyways, but emotionally I still felt like a failure as a women and a mother. I can't feed my kid. That's a horrible feeling. Especially with everyone around me saying "very few moms have real supply issues" etc etc. A lot of my guilty feelings came from my struggle itself, and the things I was told at that point, more than the end result.

I don't feel like anyone dismissed my guilt, though. They didn't understand it, because they didn't have to deal with it. Moms who can breastfeed seem to have a harder time understanding the feelings of those who can't. My MIL would tell me "then just quit.. it's not a big deal. Formula is fine." And a lot of women were like "oh, I almost quit like six times. I get you." They sympathize, but don't empathize. They don't understand why the guilt is there, so they attempt to logically sway you to stop feeling it, because that want you to feel better.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
November 23rd, 2009, 07:05 AM
**Badfish**'s Avatar Worth Saving
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Colorado
Posts: 7,141
I don't know, I usually feel guilty about things that are out of my control, especially when it comes to my child. There's this compulsion to be a super hero and make sure he never gets hurt and he only has the best, but realistically, that's not possible. For example, I probably let him eat Mac n Cheese more than I should because he's so picky right now. Instead of feeling guilty about it, I started scrambling a couple of eggs and mixing them in the Mac n Cheese with steamed vegetables. Now it's high protein with a couple of servings of vegetables, and he's none the wiser. On the other hand, when he was a few months old, he got nursemaid's elbow while I was helping his stand. Oh the guilt!! Haha! I knew it wasn't my fault, but I couldn't get over that I wasn't able to prevent that from happening.

Was any of that relevant to guilt about breastfeeding? Probably not. LOL! I tried.
__________________





Reply With Quote
  #6  
November 23rd, 2009, 07:52 AM
*Jillian*'s Avatar Baby #3 on the way
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Alabama
Posts: 11,299
I think it is perfectly fine to feel guilty if you couldn't breastfeed and wanted to. I think people are trying to say that you have no reason to feel guilty because you tried and you should be proud of that. But that doesn't change the fact that tons of women DO feel guilty and it isn't our place to minimize those feelings.

For me, guilt has always been a hard to explain and very internal emotion. Our personalities kind of shape what we feel guilty about in life. Not everyone is the same and not everyone places as much importance on things as another would. Basically if someone says "don't feel guilty" they either mean "don't worry you tried" or "it isn't a big deal so don't feel guilty" I think you have to consider the source. If it is a good friend that knows how you struggled then take it as support and if it is person that doesn't understand how bad you wanted to breastfeed then ignore it. Don't take it to heart because they don't understand.
__________________

















Reply With Quote
  #7  
November 23rd, 2009, 10:03 AM
Quantum_Leap's Avatar frequent flier
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Seattle area, Washington
Posts: 9,756
I think the problem is that our English language doesn't actually have a word that exactly describes the feeling women get when they want to breastfeed but can't. "Guilt" isn't really the right word at all, it's just that it's the next closest thing. The feeling is more like....I don't know, disappointment mixed with a (misplaced) sense of failure/inadequacy. This is a poor analogy, but it's almost like the feeling you get when you get a D on a test even though you studied very hard. (And then people keep coming up to you and saying "Well, didn't you study?" Makes you want to wring their necks.) Not exactly guilt per se, but something close to guilt, and certainly not a happy feeling.

I know that when I had to stop breastfeeding my son during the day, I felt EXTREMELY guilty over it, to the point of despondency. I know logically that I did absolutely everything within my power to keep going, but -- I don't know, I just wish my powers had been greater.
__________________

Thank you to the SSMC makers for my beautiful siggies!

(x2)(x2)(October 2011)
Reply With Quote
  #8  
November 23rd, 2009, 03:57 PM
*Leslie*'s Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ohio
Posts: 4,083
I don't believe that one must not have done everything if they feel guilty.
I am going through this right now. I know in my heart of hearts that I did everything I could in the past 11 days, but I still feel guilty as heck over it. I am starting to come to terms with it externally, but it is extremely hard to not think about it and what I maybe/could have/should have done.
I don't think peoples intentions are bad though, I just think they are poorly worded.
__________________

<3 August 1st, 2013
<3 November 21st, 2013
<3 October, 19th 2014



Reply With Quote
  #9  
November 25th, 2009, 06:10 PM
Eowyn's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1,400
When I lost ability to breastfeed my son I felt incredibly guilty.
I did everything I could I have -I had and have 100% confidence that I did everything I could~but i still felt "guilty".
That my body could not provide nourishment for my infant that needed that nourishment. I felt failure as not just a mother but just as a woman -my body couldnt do what a womans body should be able to do. I felt awful, incredibly sad and very angry at myself even though it was something that was completely out of my hands.
After the first week of formula feeding though, I felt such relief knowing my son was actually getting a FULL tummy and was HAPPY.
The guilt went away but I still regret not being able to continue.
It wasnt my choice so I choose not to allow myself to beat myself up about it.

So that's my story.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
November 27th, 2009, 04:25 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 10,865
I felt SUPER guilty when I had no choice but to give my DD formula. I tried SO hard to BF when I got home from the hospital, but it didn't happen. Then I bumped, and it dried up. I felt SO guilty I didn't try harder, even though it wasn't my fault that I didn't really have a chance to begin with (read the topic about your story). I am now mostly comfortable with my efforts, but you are your own worst enemy. Boards like this one do not help the guilt. Even after not feeling guilt for at least a couple years, coming to these boards has brought that guilt back. It is lack of support and a whole lot of judgment. People judging your judgment make you insecure about your choices/decisions.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #11  
November 27th, 2009, 04:41 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 6,966
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smashley View Post
I felt SUPER guilty when I had no choice but to give my DD formula. I tried SO hard to BF when I got home from the hospital, but it didn't happen. Then I bumped, and it dried up. I felt SO guilty I didn't try harder, even though it wasn't my fault that I didn't really have a chance to begin with (read the topic about your story). I am now mostly comfortable with my efforts, but you are your own worst enemy. Boards like this one do not help the guilt. Even after not feeling guilt for at least a couple years, coming to these boards has brought that guilt back. It is lack of support and a whole lot of judgment. People judging your judgment make you insecure about your choices/decisions.
You do not realize that this is a debate board and is not meant for support. If it is making you feel guilt then maybe this somewhere you should not be reading. I FF my oldest son and I felt like I was being judged but realized that it was not that at all I was feeling guilty for not trying harder or BF him longer then a few weeks. No one on here is judging you. You need to come with grips that it did not work and move on. That is what I had to do any many other mothers.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
November 27th, 2009, 05:28 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 10,865
^ I have come to grips with that, but thank you. I do not look for support from women on here regarding BF vs FF. I know it is a debate, but thank you for that.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #13  
November 27th, 2009, 05:53 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 6,966
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smashley View Post
^ I have come to grips with that, but thank you. I do not look for support from women on here regarding BF vs FF. I know it is a debate, but thank you for that.
Well you said that every since you came back to the boards it has brought the guilt back and that it is a lack of support and alot of judgement. So if you are not talking about here then where are you feeling judged on JM. I am not trying to be snarky or anything like that but honestly if are still feeling guilt for BF not working out Maybe you have not really dealt with it. I really do not see anyone passing judgment but stating facts. I must have alot missed where someone has posted that forumla is rat poisin.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
November 27th, 2009, 06:12 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 10,865
in previous debates, people compare formula to rat poison. You can get Organic formula if you were super concerned. I am fine with not BF. I wish I could have, but I do not think I am a bad mom, or my child is like one out of a million who is healthy, happy, and thriving, but I dunno, I just think some BF moms have this black and white mindset, and that if you aren't BF you are a horrible mother. It has been said.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #15  
November 27th, 2009, 06:20 PM
IAmMomMomIAm
Guest
Posts: n/a
My main issue with BF and forums is the blinkies. "I breastfeed because my baby's worth it." So.. those who don't breast feed don't think their babies are worth working for? What? I've also seen "I breastfeed because I care." Same with the "I vax because I care" it's a pretty crappy implication. I've never personally heard someone in these parts say it's rat poison, but I've heard tale of it (heresay, of course, and I haven't looked for proof). It's also in real life.. I bought formula the other day and the very pregnant lady in the aisle next to me said "you don't breast feed?! Formula is nothing but poison!" Uh.. gee... thanks? lol
Reply With Quote
  #16  
November 27th, 2009, 07:51 PM
mama_reese's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 3,577
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keskes View Post
My main issue with BF and forums is the blinkies. "I breastfeed because my baby's worth it." So.. those who don't breast feed don't think their babies are worth working for? What? I've also seen "I breastfeed because I care." Same with the "I vax because I care" it's a pretty crappy implication. I've never personally heard someone in these parts say it's rat poison, but I've heard tale of it (heresay, of course, and I haven't looked for proof). It's also in real life.. I bought formula the other day and the very pregnant lady in the aisle next to me said "you don't breast feed?! Formula is nothing but poison!" Uh.. gee... thanks? lol


It still amazes me that people have the...nerve... to say that kind of thing to people. I've had people say things offensive to me about BF. But it's not as bad as comments people make to moms who FF. Because of the guilt some moms have who WANTED to BF but had good legitimate reasons why they couldn't. (like you, Kes) It makes me angry. I'm on the boat of people should atleast try to BF, and I know alot of people don't agree with me on that but so be it. I just can't believe the rudeness and nerve of some people. And I can see how those blinkies and such can be offensive. I have no problem celebrating milestons and saying that you're proud of BFing and the like (obviously, I have them!) but I don't have a problem with FF ones either. I do have to say, the ones that say "my FF baby is smarter than your BF baby" blinkies (yes, I've seen them lol) because I mean...it's just stupid. I wouldn't say to someone that their FF baby wasn't as smart as my BF baby because it's dang rude and it might not even be true!

Ok, I'll shut up now and stop freaking rambling.
__________________




Reply With Quote
  #17  
November 27th, 2009, 08:22 PM
IAmMomMomIAm
Guest
Posts: n/a
lol, yeah. The milestone ones and "my baby is a boobie baby" etc are just fine by me. It's a stupid battle to fight with blinkies, if you ask me. My blinkies are animal rescue, LDS, and Warcraft, lol. I used to have a "proud FF mommy" but it's not like it was insulting BFers. Why can't people just be content that we all FEED our babies?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
November 28th, 2009, 09:44 AM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 10,865
Quote:
why can't people just be content that we all feed our babies?

amen!
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #19  
November 28th, 2009, 10:20 AM
SweetSimpleThings's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: B.C., Canada
Posts: 7,832
I guess part of my curiousity on this topic is also: what is it that imbues this issue with such tones of guilt. Some would say it's because deep down we know what we should do, and if we didn't, we should and do feel bad. But I think part of it is also tied into cultural expectations, the cult of the "perfect mother" and all of that. It's as though somehow our failure is proof that we weren't sacrificing enough, didn't try hard enough, aren't good enough?

I don't know, just thinking aloud...
__________________

Reply With Quote
  #20  
November 28th, 2009, 03:13 PM
(.Y.)mom2dd(.Y.)
Guest
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keskes View Post
My main issue with BF and forums is the blinkies. "I breastfeed because my baby's worth it." So.. those who don't breast feed don't think their babies are worth working for? What? I've also seen "I breastfeed because I care." Same with the "I vax because I care" it's a pretty crappy implication. I've never personally heard someone in these parts say it's rat poison, but I've heard tale of it (heresay, of course, and I haven't looked for proof). It's also in real life.. I bought formula the other day and the very pregnant lady in the aisle next to me said "you don't breast feed?! Formula is nothing but poison!" Uh.. gee... thanks? lol
About the blinkies.. I used to love blinkies to show how I feel about subjects but I find it so hard to have them when hosting. For example, when I was the co-host of attachment parenting, I wanted ffers to feel welcome but I knew it was an uphill battle. I tried really hard to show I understood by having this blinkie:



In the end, I just couldn't seem to convey that even though a mother couldn't breast feed, that didn't meant *I* didn't consider them AP. I thought there was a huge amount of AP moms that ffed because of circumstances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Christina A~ View Post
I guess part of my curiousity on this topic is also: what is it that imbues this issue with such tones of guilt. Some would say it's because deep down we know what we should do, and if we didn't, we should and do feel bad. But I think part of it is also tied into cultural expectations, the cult of the "perfect mother" and all of that. It's as though somehow our failure is proof that we weren't sacrificing enough, didn't try hard enough, aren't good enough?

I don't know, just thinking aloud...
I'm with you there man.. It upsets me that women have so many factors working against them.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Topic Tools Search this Topic
Search this Topic:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:32 AM.